It’s A Third World (Country) After All

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Today the United States of America officially downgraded itself to the status of a third world country. In my opinion, we have white male billionaire (and lowly multimillionaire) crooks and thugs in total charge of the government. And just like many third world country governments I think these men will rob us blind to enrich themselves and fill their own offshore, tax-free coffers. I think cutting federal spending by $10 trillion over the next ten years by dismantling or diminishing almost every program and agency that benefits the low income and outright poor, the sick, the environment, arts and culture, food, product, and workplace safety, When Janet Yellen’s term as Fed Reserve chair has expired Donald Trump will replace her with yet another white male billionaire. He will control the entire economic system of our country from top to bottom, enabling him and his cronies to hide the robbery of public funds from the Treasury.

As I’ve written before, we don’t recover from this. Now that certain elements within the GOP have perfected how to steal a national election, they’ll never lose another one. If somehow they are defeated in a future election, the social, economic and social damage began by Trump and continued by subsequent Republican administrations will be so great there will be no fixing it. there will be no reversing it any time soon after that, I put the timeline at about maybe 20 years or so. By that time, thanks to all the environmental protection dismantling by Trump, life on earth may be about over anyway thanks to the increase in the earth’s temperature. But I guess all you Trump voters will be happy as a clam, pleased as pumpkins, especially if the Republicans are still in power. Better Red (under a Republican government) AND dead than Blue (under a Democratic government) and alive.

Why Black Voters Should Be Supporting Bernie Sanders

A criticism of Bernie Sanders from several black groups is that he has not really talked about racism or otherwise addressing black issues, something they say Hillary Clinton has done.

OK, here’s my response. I’ve listened to Bernie talk for years and I’m currently reading his autobiography. He talks about why this country is so racist, coming to the same conclusion I arrived at independently. Basically, we’re all being played. Poor white sharecroppers and laborers were being played by wealthy Southern landowners, bankers and politicians and we’re being played by the ruling power elite of today. Being played how? By polarizing us into different groups who look across the room or the country with hate at each other. When life is hard and you’re struggling just to survive, many people need someone to blame for their hardships and struggle, a scapegoat. They also need to feel superior to the object of their hate. So, poor whites hate blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, etc., anyone they feel superior to and fear is in danger of taking a piece of the small pie they’re grasping onto.

Blacks and Hispanics hate each other in many communities. Many groups join together and hate gay people. So, we’re all looking across and hating each other instead of stopping to look up and see who are the ones who have pitted us against each other. We’re all rats in an overcrowded maze with no way out and the food and water grow less and less.

Why are we kept pitted against each other like this? Because of all us stopped to think and reason, we’d realize who actually is responsible for all of this. We’d unite and as one huge powerful group rise up and overthrow the power elite, which would be the first step in healing all the rifts between us.

So, this is why Bernie doesn’t concentrate on black issues, or Hispanic issues or any issues which just serve to polarize one group from another. All our issue stem from the same common problems: inequality of wealth and income, lack of a job, working at of a job which pays a living wage and offers benefits, lack of adequate income, lack of adequate housing, lack of affordable college education, etc. If you focus on the basic problems we all face and fix those, racism becomes less of an issue because if just about everybody has theirs, there’s no reason to hate the those who have more than you or for you to try to feel superior to those who have less and you feel are trying to take more of yours.

So, let Hillary talk about black issues. Let her continue to perpetuate the hatred and polarization among the races. Bernie is talking about changing the fundamental issues and institutional inequalities which separate us all so that we can finally unite under the common goal of equality—in every sense of the word—and justice for all. Bernie Sanders for president for ALL of us.

Selling The Social Security Retirement Scam

http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/retirement/how-millions-of-americans-are-flubbing-retirement/ar-AAeJrMV

This article is a primary reason why you don’t read MSN Money for actual money advice. It just serves to perpetuate the cover-up of the greatest ongoing theft in US history: the raid on the Old Age, Survivor And Disability Insurance trust fund. It’s just more of selling the scam.

“It’s widely regarded as the best deal in retirement. Researchers can’t figure out why more Americans aren’t taking it. The deal, of course, is putting off Social Security benefits, which can boost your monthly paycheck by more than three-fourths if you delay until the maximum age of 70.”

What you’ve just read is total bullshit. Is the article writer, Ian Salisbury, by chance a Republican? The best deal in retirement was when full Social Security retirement benefits were payable at age 65. Then came Ronald Reagan who, along with both chambers of Congress and Alan (Mr. Andrea Mitchell) Greenspan, started the mass raid on the OASDI trust fund with the signing into law of the Social Security Amendments of 1983. And the theft just keeps on growing.

Unless Salisbury is a Millennial he and “researchers” should know damn well that most of us in our 60s can’t wait until we’re 70 to draw our SS retirement checks. And we shouldn’t have to. We’re not the ones who, like a federal Dracula, have been feasting on the blood of the Social Security trust fund for 32 years. But this article wants us to be good little Social Security benefits blood donors and wait until we’re all 70 years old to start making our withdrawals from the SS blood bank.

First, with this lousy economy that every Congress and every president since Bill Clinton has saddled us with, I don’t have any savings to tide me over for the next seven years and there are millions of baby boomers riding in my same financial boat.

Secondly, how do any of us know we’ll make it 70? I’m pretty confident about reaching 65, just about as confident of hitting 66 which was at one time where the age for full benefits was pushed back to. But 70? If I am still alive by then what is my life expectancy beyond that? You can bet that the Social Security Administration already has those actuarial tables on file and are updating them as needed.

I got a much better idea for a better deal in retirement—MY retirement. Close down the pension system for all members of Congress and the president, remove the $118,500 cap for OASDI payroll deductions, and then mandate it that all members of Congress and each president must have enough quarters of earnings paid into the system to draw their retirement benefits when they reach 70. But in this case, I’ll be generous: I’ll allow Congress to lower the age for full benefits back down to 65.

That change alone will pay enough into the fund to keep Social Security solvent for, well, forever. Or at least until all life on earth dies out from global warming or the sun supernovas in 5 billion years and takes the Solar System with it.

But until either of those events happen, I can wait two years to reap the rewards of the best deal in retirement.

The Night Right Wing Talk Radio Was Actually Right

Could George Noory of Coast To Coast AM be a closet liberal? Could all the Obama birther nonsense, aliens and ghosts and Bigfoot walking among us all be ratings-building hype? After last night, I don’t know.
He had David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who specializes in economic and tax issues, on his show. The guy made a lot of sense but what made my ears perk up was an exchange with a female caller who called in about Neal Boortz’s elitist-masquerading-as-populist, so-called “FairTax” idea. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FairTax
She smugly talked over Johnston as she stated the tax (without mentioning Boortz’s name) had been endorsed by top economists and it would require everyone from the rich on down to pay their fair share, and that it would then motivate all the companies with offshore accounts and investments to bring it all back home and all our economic woes would be gone. After she was done, Johnston coolly and methodically debunked every assertion of hers point by point, even taking a swipe at the flat tax. He explained in terms that even she could understand that if a rich person as a $10 million annual income that person will not spend that entire $10 million on purchases subject to the FairTax but poorer people WILL spend the majority of their disposable income on taxable purchases because they have to. And besides, for the wealthy, there are many ways to buy things under the table without receipt or computer records.
A male caller claimed that only Eric Holder has let the banksters off the hook and made some other claims.( It is true that Holder wrote what became the “too big to fail” policy in a memo while working in the Clinton Department of Justice.) This is where Johnston blew me away. He responded that every point the caller had made was wrong; every single statement the caller had made was not true. He elaborated that Reagan and the Bushies–daddy and son– had in essence followed the doctrine that to take any actual and meaningful action against banks for their fraudulent actions would make the market “nervous” and hurt the economy. But the moment that won my heart is when he said that people believe these lies because they hear them all the time on right wing talk radio shows. Noory stayed silent after that remark.
But Johnston is an equal opportunity investigate reporter and he also spoke truth to power on the Democratic side as well, sticking a pin in the myth of Bill Clinton as a great liberal president (my description) to let the air out of it. (In fact, in 1996, Clinton and Newt Gingrich had agreed to a tax pact cutting both Social Security and Medicare, and were forming a permanent partnership until Monica Lewinsky came between them. http://www.amazon.com/The-Pact-Clinton-Gingrich-Generation/dp/0195322789)
Under Clinton, the poor and near-poor were more frequently audited by the IRS than were corporations and the wealthy. Why? Because Newt Gingrich hated the Earned Income Tax Credit and part of the budget compromise in 1996 was that those claiming that credit would have to provide proof they were eligible, and kids’ most recent report cards weren’t enough. Johnston stated that, contrary to Gingrich’s assertions, the only persons incorrectly receiving the credit were divorced parents where the ineligible parent had stolen the credit away from the eligible parent by filing their tax return first and claiming it.
But, most importantly, Johnston further confirms what economics experts and pundits like Paul Krugman (“End This Depression Now!”) and Noam Scheiber (“The Escape Artists” How Obama’s Team Fumbled The Recovery”) have said for the past few years: the rise of income inequality and the fall of the average American wage earner’s income, the slide toward this government from being a democracy to an oligarchy has been a bipartisan affair, wending its way from the Reagan administration through every administration—Democratic and Republican—up to the present day.

Sometimes Democrats and Republicans ARE The Same

Reading Paul Krugman’s “End This Depression Now!” He makes it quite clear that the whole income inequality and the 2008 financial meltdown was a bipartisan accomplishment. To keep this short, I’ll give a timeline mentioning just the players and the legislation responsible and you can Google them for more information.

1980: Congress passes and Carter signs into law the Monetary Control Act of 1980 which deregulated and opened up many more kinds of deposits that banks could now pay interest on.

1982: Congress passes and Reagan signs into law the Garn–St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 which relaxed restrictions on the kinds of loans banks could make.

1998: Citicorp merges with Travelers Group to attain both Smith Barney and Shearson Lehman and form Citigroup. The problem was that at that time Glass-Steagall prevented commercial banks from engaging in either insurance or investment banking. Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill pays a visit to and makes sure large contributions are paid to Texas Senator Phil Gramm. The result:

1999: Congress passes and Clinton signs into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which retroactively authorizes the Citi-Travelers merger. Oh, the key White House figure supporting the bill? Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Gramm left the Senate and joined the board of directors of UBS. Rubin was a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs and after leaving the Clinton White House became vice chairman of…Citigroup.

Also in 1998: Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers testifies before Congress that regulating derivatives would be a bad idea and so the issue is tabled. He later endorses the the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. (In 2009, Summers admits he was wrong about everything. Better late than never? Tell that to all the people worldwide who lost homes, jobs, savings, retirement accounts, lives–everything–before Summers in essence said “Oops.”)

My contributions outside of the book:

2001: Along with the British, Dubya starts a war in Afghanistan. The costs for the war is kept off the federal budget.

2001: Congress passes and Dubya signs into law the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.

2003: Dubya invades Iraq. The costs for the war are kept off the federal budget.

2003: Congress passes and Dubya signs into law Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.

2009: Congress passes and Obama signs into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It authorizes a stimulus payment of what grew to be $831 billion. Economic adviser Christina Romer insisted that the minimum stimulus needed to jump start the economy was $1.8 billion, and she was later proven right although she was gone from the White House by that time. Who overruled her, insisting on the lower stimulus package? Our old friend (and Bill Clinton’s), Larry Summers, along with Peter R. Orszag, yet another ex-Clinton economic adviser who headed the CBO under Obama. After leaving the Obama administration, Orszag took a job with…Citigroup.

So, as Krugman and I have shown, what led to the 2008 meltdown and which continues the basis and continued extension of income inequality (through all the deregulation because yes indeed, as the rich get richer the poor get poorer) has been a bipartisan affair. It is very true: when it comes to the economy, there is no difference between the two parties.

John Stewart Schools Timothy Geithner In Economics

Watch Jon Stewart at his best: Geithner. It’s a 3-part interview with a 5-part extended interview.

Timothy Geithner is making the talk show rounds plugging his new book. Geithner is a typically, tone deaf political economist who was one of the primary constructionists of two economic policies which led to and has perpetuated the effects of the crash of 2008. Watch his body language as he insists the Obama administration did the only thing possible to help the economy recover while Stewart keeps calling him on his bullshit, requiring Geithner to reset and try to throw it again.

Geithner is not a people person and it shows. He has been around economic theory, growing up living a privileged life; he has never known poverty. Throughout most of his childhood he lived abroad; throughout his education, his focus was on Asia, not on the USA. He went to two universities in China and then majored in and got advanced degrees from two American schools in Asian and international studies. His entire career has put a firewall between him and the average person,. He’s all economic theory and no personal knowledge or experience with or—I think—any true compassion for the plight of the people who suffer as a result of economic policies he put in place.

After the 2008 economic meltdown, what was his primary concern? He wanted to avoid setting off a bank panic, or even making them slightly nervous. That’s why he insisted the banks be given all that free money with absolutely no restrictions or federal controls. He smugly claimed to Stewart that the banks paid back all those loans with interest; therefore, the taxpayers made a profit. Really? Was that profit shared with all those homeowners who lost their home because banks like Bank of America, Citibank, and JP Morgan Chase refused or delayed to refinance homes, denying or delaying applications for refinancing under HARP? Over and over again you see Geithner try to run, but he can’t hide from Stewart.

To him, the economic problems of the poor and the middle class are theoretical. So, no matter how much he tries to argue to the contrary, Stewart is right: TARP gave no-strings-attached money to the banks hand-over-fist, and then allowed them to borrow money at the discount window for 0% interest and make 3% interest on that same money. Yet despite both TARP and HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program), homeowners were foreclosed on in record numbers—many through fraudulent and illegal means—and the banks were left off the hook by paying plea-bargained fines which amounted to pocket change for them.

Even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Geithner insists the Obama administration did the right and the only available thing to fix the economy. Tone deaf, again. And this speaks volumes about Obama because he was the one who hired Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury, to work beside Larry Summers, the Clinton retread who gave us unregulated derivatives and the repeal of Glass-Steagall during the Clinton years which directly lead to the 2008 crash. While Stewart did a great job of nailing Geithner to his own cross, even better than Stewart, I’d love to see Paul Krugman and/or Robert Reich debate Geithner over his book. Both of them would bring along their good friend, John Maynard Keynes (in spirit), who I believe would have loved the opportunity to go a few rounds with Geithner on TV. Talk about REALLY being schooled…

Calling President Obama A Liberal Does Not Make Him A Liberal

Chris Matthews just did a segment on how Obama has gone full-bore liberal. He’s told the Republicans that “entitlements reform” is off the table and don’t even whisper chained-CPI. He’s also saying we’re going to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 (which sounds a little 9-9-9 to me) or you’ll tell the American voters this year why you didn’t.

All well and good but Chris and MSNBC being what they are, neglected to include in the segment that Obama is also pushing mighty hard for both the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Two decidedly UN-Liberal positions there, folks.

Notice that Obama has had the State Department. sign off on the pipeline’s minimal environmental impact–and what the heck is John Kerry and his staff doing weighing in on this in the first place? This is to be (as I understand it) a private business arrangement between a Canadian oil corporation and private corporations here and not a treaty between sovereign nations. And it seems to me that that assessment and decision is more within the scope and authority of the EPA and the Department of the Interior, wouldn’t you think? Why have we no studies from those two protectors of land, water, and air speaks volumes about Obama’s attempt to hide how environmentally destructive this pipeline will prove to be. This whole boondoggle will produce no oil to be used in this country; the filthy, disgusting, tar sands crude oil goo will be piped and loaded onto oil tankers headed for the likes of China and points east.  How many much-needed, permanent American jobs will be created if this project is approved? Maybe 2000 to finish building it, then 50-100 to maintain it.

What the hell is Obama thinking? The fact alone that Republicans overwhelming demand the pipeline be built–EXCEPT FOR THOSE WHOSE PRIVATELY-OWNED LANDS SUBJECT TO CONFISCATION THROUGH EMINENT DOMAIN.  The Nebraska farmers who (so far) have successfully challenged the pipeline are examples of this, saying “I’ll give you my land when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

Matthews, Joy Reid, and Richard Wolffe at MSNBC may enjoy embroidering a big blue L on Obama’s suit jackets but right beside it would have to be a big fat red DayGlo asterisk. Or maybe they’re following Comcast corporate policy by supporting another MSNBC supposed-liberal colleague who has embraced the KXL: none other than the American union worker’s best friend, Ed Schultz. I’m glad Ed calls himself a progressive because otherwise he’d be giving the word Liberal a bad name. Just as Matthews, Reid, and Wolffe are doing with Obama.